River Festival Organizers Dissapointed Over Increased Costs

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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The City of Wichita is changing the way it will charge during the River Festival and the group that runs it isn't happy.

To put on River Festival this spring Wichita Festivals says it could end up costing them tens of thousands of dollars more.

"With the festival only six months away we're going to have a lot of fundraising. We're going to have to do it in order to catch up," said Wichita Festivals Board of Directors Chair Lucy Burtnett.

The group has always had a separate agreement with the city as to what permit fees it pays.

But Tuesday morning the council votes to get rid of that and instead make the festival abide by the same fee guidelines it uses to charge other community groups to put on smaller events.

The city says it had to make the change to make sure those other groups couldn't sue saying they were being treated unfairly.

But Wichita Festivals says it shouldn't be lumped in with the others. The festival lasts for nine days and draws more than 300,000 people. It says the new guidelines could raise costs dramatically. The group says just for police protection it'll be $20,000 bucks extra this year.

"It might be impossible to come up with that money and I don't know what we will do at that point," said Burtnett.

Possibilities include cutting events or even raising admission button prices.

The city council says it is willing to work with Wichita Festivals to ease the cost increases.

"The City of Wichita will always be a partner and will always be there to provide whatever those necessary needs are," said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.

But the group says the city should have worked out all the financial specifics with them officially before passing the new ordinance.

"I hope we can immediately get a Memorandum of Understanding with teh city. We have got to get these things understood and make sure everybody's on the same page," said Burtnett.

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